Democrats and Non-Liberals to Announce Medical Marijuana Bill

ALBANY—Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and State Senator Tom Duane will each introduce a medical marijuana bill tomorrow at a press conference, and with their Democratic Party in control of both houses of the legislature, Gottfried told me the chance of passage is better than ever this year.

"I think we have much better prospects this year, because there are identical bills in the Senate and Assembly," he said on the Assembly floor just now. The bill has been introduced in the Assembly for the last 13 years, and passed the last two years. I asked if the bill goes far enough, as some advocate.

"Well, there are people who are pretty hard-line against decriminalization who can support this," Gottfried said.

Certainly, it looks like he and Duane are trying to emphasize that support in particular. In addition to the two liberal Democrats, the following people are scheduled to speak at the press conference:

Joe Gamble of Liverpool, N.Y., a former Army paratrooper and commercial test pilot who suffers from multiple sclerosis and has found that medical marijuana relieves his constant pain more effectively than conventional medicines.

Joel Peacock, a Conservative Party member from Buffalo who could benefit from medical marijuana, if it were legal, to alleviate chronic pain from a 2001 car accident

Best as we can tell, these guys weren't invited.

Austin Shafran, a spokesman for Majority Leader Malcolm Smith said he hasn't taken a position on the bill and "looks forward to reviewing the bill and soliciting input from advocates both for and against."